Tag Archives: music


I have a new love in my life. He’s quiet, a classic, comfy to hold and hug to me. He lets me touch him whenever I want, enjoys my cuddling with him on the couch while I watch tv, comes out with me to social events and joins in with enthusiasm.
He, like me, enjoys all kinds of music, from rock and roll to Peter, Paul and Mary. He’s as thrilled as me that I’ve found the music for Classical Gas by Mason Williams.
But, like most grown ups, he’s also good on his own. He’s content to do is own thing if I’m away doing mine. He’s not threatened by others like him.
One day, we hope to travel together, maybe to Newfoundland, where we can hang out in the pubs with the locals. Or just sit and watch the sunrise together, maybe singing a tune together. Maybe “Morning Has Broken” or something. We don’t know. He even understands I might leave him behind and take my shorter friend.
I don’t know how long my infatuation will last, but it’s pretty strong right now. I’ve known lots of other instruments, but none of them have taken to me the same way he has. It’s so easy being with him.
We simply seem right together. We have the same odd sense of the world, me and my ukulele.
I think this is the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

Loving music and dance

Tomorrow afternoon, I’m heading out to go dancing. There’s a restaurant in Halifax, My Father’s Moustache, that has a house band. Every Saturday, they play three hours of blues and dancing music. I’ve been once before, and was astonished to find that I could still dance, despite my MS, and that I loved it so very much. I’d forgotten the simple joy of moving to the music.

Halifax is a wonderful place for live music at no to low cost. Everywhere you go, music follows – coffee shops, bars, house concerts, big concerts, street music, church concerts. The music here runs from folk to out there alternative; different places specialize in different music, but it’s quite democratic. Depending on the day, the music can vary even in the same place.

I love it here, and the music scene is one of the reasons why. I mean, I’m over 50, and afraid of dances where i might have to give CPR since everyone is over 90. This dancing tomorrow is good good music and the place is filled with people of all ages, having a great time.

It’s also a bit of a singles hangout. People watching is half the fun. Some of the attendees are scented and dressed to the nines, and there are a few gentlemen who swim sharklike through the crowd, looking for unattended fishies. The fishies are also swimming, looking for sharks. The last time I went I swear one guy was wearing Brilliantine in his hair – it shone almost as brightly as his alligator shoes. Rad, Dad!

Add all this to the fact this place serves delicious fish and chips, and man, I’m in heaven.

Tomorrow, I’m going with a moustachioed man and two good friends. I can’t wait to feel the floor beneath my feet, the music in my veins.


Lately I’ve felt like the old sailor who had so much to do he didn’t do anything at all. I feel distracted by my many tasks and goals and can’t focus on one thing at a time.
It’s foolish, because I just finished the excellent training for “living well” and if I’d paid attention I’d know what I should be doing.
Namely: setting small goals, checking that I was confident that I could do them, then doing them.
But of course, it’s easy to forget this stuff, especially when you feel surrounded by stuff that has to be done.
So another friend mentioned another technique  – to look at my hand and allocate one broader goal I wanted to meet to each finger, and drop the things I couldn’t attach to a finger.
She’s very good at visual stuff.
So, just for your amusement, here’s my hand. What would you have on yours?
1. Physical activity. I have to do it or my MS will tie me up in knots.
2. Music. I foolishly love the ukulele. I really want to learn how to play it. It gives me joy when I allow myself to play it.
3. Creativity: whether through needle-felting, rug-hooking, writing, painting – I must have some of this in my life. It provides my soul.
4. Contribution: I can’t seem to give up this feeling that I need to do something for others, or to make the world work better. It fluffs my brain.
5. Relationships: I’m fortunate enough to have a few good friends and a wonderful man in my life. I treasure them. They warm my heart.
And that’s my handful.
I can’t take on any more. And if things come along that don’t stick to my fingers, it’ll have to slide out of my hand.
Maybe focusing on these five things will help me stay on track.


Gordon Belsher, PEI, and seizing the day

I’m having a serious problem with delight.

PEI is figuring prominently and it’s odd because though I love PEI in its own way, it is far too tame for a wild soul like me. Give me the windswept shores of NS anytime, with their rocky beaches and spitting waves and preferably fog rolling in in a glutinous manner to enclose all in mystery and hidden rage.

Why, they don’t even have much wildlife in PEI – no rampant coyotes or wandering meese or whatevers. I like my pheasants stomping by outside, the occasional sound of a coyote-cat interaction, the feeling that nature red in tooth and claw lives, yea, verily, here in utter suburbia.

But I just spent a lovely restful, beautiful couple of days with my wonderful gal pals over in PEI and it was smashingly wonderful. We talked and examined our lives and ate fudge and altogether too much bad for us food and laughed and slept like dead things and wandered the beach (well, I sat on the beach as my MS-legs were uncooperative). Prior to that, the same pals and I attended a blissful house concert here in NS involving Gordon Belsher (guitar and many other thing player and a major source of warm thoughts for me – admit I have a crush!) and Richard Wood (fiddler extraordinaire and cutie pie). The coziness of the house concert made it seem like we were friends.

I had to buy a CD to recapture the feeling, and lately I’ve been listening to Gordon’s CD in the car and singing my fool heart out. I go through these phases where a certain CD just speaks to my heart, and I listen to it over and over like a teenager. For a while there it was James Hill’s Man With a Love Song…


but now that relationship is over (It’s a good thing overall, alas), I seem to be bonding on Gordon’s “I’m not old yet”, especially the song below, which unfortunately doesn’t have a recording online, but you can sample. It’s the words I love, and the way Gordon’s voice trills up on the chorus. It makes me happy. I don’t know what it is about his voice but I confess to a bad fantasy about grabbing him to sing a special song especially to me. In a field in PEI. With the polished Holsteins that are stood around there. And I wouldn’t mind that it was pristine and that he is married (for I don’t want him for that) and that eventually the song would be over, I’d just listen and soak it up with the sun and the grass and the smell of contented cows and the sea and then go forth and be a better person.

I want to be like the girl in the song. There are parallels, though I’ve never learned Latin.

So, unfortunately, stealing Gordon Belsher would likely land me in prison. I resorted to ordering another of his CDs. I love Richard, too, but Gordon’s voice reminds me of songs around the campfire back when I was young and sweet and lived for the moment. He even sings “Cockles and Mussels”, which my dad sung a lot. Right now I am wrapping him around me like a blanket and delighting. While I get right on with that seizing the day thing.

Seize the Day

©Carolyn Arends

I know a girl who was schooled in Manhattan
She reads dusty books and learns phrases in Latin
	She is an author or maybe a poet
A genius, but it's just this world doesn't know it
	She works on her novel most every day
	If you laugh, she will say...

	Seize the day, seize whatever you can
	'Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
	Seize the day, pray for Grace from God's hand
	And nothing can stand in your way
	Seize the day

I know a man who's been doing some thinking
He's as bitter and cold as the whiskey he's drinking
	He's talking 'bout fear, 'bout chances not taken
If you listen to him, you can hear his heart breakin'
	He says "One day you're a boy, and the next day you're dead
	I wish way back when someone had said..."

(Repeat Chorus)

Well, one thing I've noticed wherever I wander
Everyone's got a dream they can follow or squander
	You can do what you will with the days you are given
I'm trying to spend mine on the business of living
	So we're playing our songs off of any old stage
	You can laugh if you want, I'll still say...

(Repeat Chorus)

Theme songs

I’m probably one of the few people who liked Ally McBeal enough to remember the need for a theme song. During the show, the characters had to find their theme song, the one to chant inside their head as they went through their day, the one to give them strength during a challenging moment.

I love this idea. I figure a good dose of Queen gets me through a work day, Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back” was perfect for when I arrived home after a gruelling day and had to deal with the family, the Mavericks “I just want to dance the night away” was perfect for when I was moving on from a relationship, “Under Pressure” was good for almost anytime, Rawlins Cross, “Open Road” made me hit the highway.

I never had a true theme song, except maybe “whistle a happy tune” when I was a kid and being endlessly bullied at school.

But now there’s a website to help you find the theme song for your personal pile of baggage and I think it’s brilliant. Songs often say what we want to say, better than we could. It’s a hoot. I suggest you try it. You can either type in your issue or answer someone else’s. It’s all anonymous but oddly cheering. I like the concept.


Now if only there would be such a thing set up for poetry, where you could suggest the appropriate poetry for someone’s issues…or quotations…or classical music…

Hmm. Maybe we could add this to our site for the book we’re doing, my friend and I. Music for intimacy. Ooh.

Hugh Laurie and how I wish I were a polymath…

Hugh Laurie has just released an album of American Blues, called “Let Them Talk”. I am madly driving around in my car with it on my CD player just so I can listen to it and drive. Blues are great driving music. Heck, they are just great music, especially when you are listening to a fantastic pianist, and the crew of blues experts Laurie has gathered around him to play. I’ve always liked New Orleans Blues, and I’m thrilled people will get a chance to hear them, with the star power Dr. House can bring. Perhaps people will actually start listening to them again, and the Ottawa Blues Festival will ditch the need to include pop and screamer rock in their line-up…sigh.

But I am beginning to feel despair. Here is the lovely Hugh Laurie, multi-talented artist, rower, father, actor, writer, and musician. Is there anything he CAN’T do? (Well, other than shave, apparently) And here am I, struggling to write a single book, teaching myself ukulele because if I play it badly (as I do with all the instruments I try) it won’t much matter (though thanks to James Hill and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, this is no longer a safe claim), knitting misshapen squares and sewing angled straight edges. While I try everything and scrape by, he tries things and brings grace, humour, and humility as well as expertise to them.

We are about the same age, he and I. I feel so unaccomplished.

I think it must be the education one gets at Oxford. Or something. The utter brilliance Brits that come from that system show is wonderful, broad, esoteric, polymathic (which doesn’t mean they know a lot about math). I think my narrow education in the US followed by my nursing education has left something to be desired. My kids seem to feel that need, too, expanding their studies into the why’s of things as versus just the hows and whats. I hope it helps them. Already two of them have accomplished more than I, and they are half my age. And the third is gathering strength for the fight. They astonish me.

It also makes me feel urgent about accomplishing something well. Recently I’ve been entering lots of writing contests as a quick and dirty way to give me deadlines and force my hand into the writing position. So I crank out crappy stuff quickly and can assuage myself that I am at least writing. I signed up again for the three-day novel contest, and got well into a story when it occurred to me I’d had quite enough of writing fast stuff with little redeeming social value. I need to devote the time to writing well. To the dreaded revision, to looking at my stuff with the eye of someone who does have some writing chops to bring to bear. It’s no longer okay for me to do “well enough”.

Of course, this gives my ability to procrastinate full rampant control, but it’s September now, and my brain wants a challenge. It’s time.

So I’m going to put on some Hugh Laurie and his crew, some Muddy Waters and Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles and Long John Baldry, and get my sorry arse to work.

My ol’ friend the blues…

Hafta tell you, the blues came on today and they were hearty. I don’t know whether it’s the thought of my ex getting married in a couple of weeks (which fills me with an odd kind of despair and anger that he is good with this marriage thing whereas I remain afraid of commitment and fight it at every turn), or whether it is something to do with the general aimlessness of my life, but the songs from the blues just seem right, right about now. I love Long John Baldry, Matt Anderson, old-time blues, new time blues.

There’s even a new all blues station in Ottawa now – DAWG FM, and it’s so up my alley  tonight, I should be indigo, seeping into the world around me like spilled ink.

What is it about old-time blues songs that calls to the heart so much?  Is it the low repetitive base line, the growling sax, the droolingly slide-y harmonica, the low down and dirty percussion, the alcohol-fueled voices, gruff with whiskey and cigars? Perhaps it’s the way the music makes one’s hips swivel about, pulling here and there to the beat. Or maybe it’s the words – “I went to sleep on the wrong side of the bed….I put my feet where there oughta be my head…” Who hasn’t felt this way?

What way? Deep, slow, head down, face turned away from the sun, heart thickening in your chest, a sluggish lump in the stomach.  Life is dark, grey-blue, like just before a thunderstorm, but without the thrill of electricity in the air. Legs lift slowly, pulling up through the mud, arms hang, useless, by your sides.  Tired, the brain refuses to spot joy, even as it peeps around the corner.

I even went to church today, hoping for an enlivening bout of information, community, song. Instead we were on some endless treadmill of Pachelbel’s Canon in D – done on piano, glass harmonica, electric guitar, and even in the sermon.  Now I know the Canon has its graces but the last time I listened to it so intensely, I was wearing headphones to concentrate on my breathing during my LONG labour for my daughter.  I was cramping up in the pew by the time it was over, and feeling distinctly un-churchy thoughts. And the glass harmonica? Shrieking like a violin, without the soft graces – shudderingly like when that annoying uncle insists on playing the wine glasses at dinner.  My not-quite awake brain went and hid itself in a corner, far from the light and noise.

Several cups of coffee later, I met a friend for a long and fast walk through to a local beach.  We talked, laughed, stretched our legs, breathed the air.  And I could walk, which was a blessing. We spent the afternoon together and when he left, I was cheered. There’s something about good conversation that keeps the blues away.

I called another friend, a kindred spirit from far away – we talked and laughed and I gained perspective. Friends. Life blood.

But they’re all gone now, and here I sit, listening to the blues, my heart vibrating with their rhythms…